PARKERSBURG - As long as embattled police officer Floyd Holliday's case remains in court, the city is forced to pay his salary, which has continued for more than two years.
City Attorney Joe Santer thinks the case could be close to a conclusion with things becoming more transparent over the next 30 days, if attorneys can find suitable case law.
On Monday Wood County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Reed decreed a 30-day continuance as attorneys try to find legal footing for a possible ruling.
"Right now, we are in a swamp," Santer said.
Holliday was fired by the city in June 2010 for the alleged theft of items after a traffic stop and also for allegedly downloading pornography onto another officer's laptop.
In December 2010, the police civil service commission overturned the firing. According to the commission's ruling, it did not dispute the alleged acts by Holliday but stated "his conduct did not rise to the level to warrant termination."
The city appealed the commission's decision.
This spring Reed returned the case to the commission for additional and specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. In court on Monday, Reed noted it had been six months - almost to the day - since he returned the case to the commission and he never received a reply.
Officials stated the commission is no longer comprised of the three members who made the 2010 ruling. Only Bob Campbell, who was present in court Monday, remains.
Jeff Bungard's term expired last year. Jack Hunley resigned last month. The two have been replaced by Doug Kreinik and Joe Gonzales.
With the change in the commission makeup Reed is unsure how to proceed. Santer and Holliday's attorney, George Cosenza, both agreed the former members of the commission should be brought before the judge to explain their decision.
Santer does not think the new commission members can rehear the case.
"I think that is an appeal and in my opinion the new commission clearly can't do anything with it," he said. "There are a lot of questions at this point."
A message left for Cosenza Tuesday was not returned.
Reed is unsure the court has such power. The judge, addressing attorneys Monday, said there was little case law concerning the handling of the case. He cited two cases for the attorneys, but noted they weren't on point to the issue at hand.
Santer thinks things will become more transparent over the next 30 days.
"I understand the judge's concern. And I am hoping we can find something that says there is no need for that concern or it sends us in another direction," Santer said.
Santer said he'll review case law, looking for precedent the judge has the authority to tell the commission to act or law that outlines what authority the court might have.
While the case lingers, the city will continue to pay Holliday his $36,000 annual salary.
Mayor Bob Newell said the city is forced to pay the officer. Newell noted after Holliday was fired, his termination was upheld by the Police Hearing Board.
"Once they upheld his firing, we quit paying him. Once the Police Service Commission ruled the way they did, we had to resume paying him and give him back pay," Newell said.
"We are stuck with that until there is a final ruling by somebody," Newell said.